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Honoring Everyday Individuals doing Extraordinary Acts

Honoring Everyday Individuals doing Extraordinary Acts
As we have seen here, heroism is on display in our community every day. It doesn’t take a super power, extraordinary strength, or an alter ego…rather, what it takes is simply a willingness to act when and where there is a need. - Kathleen Weis

This Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 7:15am, the American Red Cross Gold Country Region will gather to honor 15 individuals from the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties who have taken action in a time of crisis to help others.

The American Red Cross is a community leader in emergency preparedness, prevention and response, and this celebration is to exalt courage and good news.

Just like athlete Arthur Ashe says: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” These 15 individuals are honored as “Real Heroes” for their service to others, be it an act that saves a life in peril or a history of helping people in need of assistance.

Animal Rescue: Niki Schiveley

Niki has organized pet food drop-off events including “Santa’s Paws,” that resulted in thousands of pounds of dog food, pet supplies and cash donations for area animal shelters. Her love for animals has also led to ‘Brownies Wish’, a non-profit organization that finds families for homeless animals. She also juggles single parenthood, pre-med studies with a 4.0 GPA, and performs volunteer work at Memorial Medical Center.

Good Samaritan (Adult): Cody Lamonte and Joel Deering

Without pausing to consider the danger to their own lives, these two friends sprang to the aid of a stranger who fell off a 70-foot cliff and into the ocean to save a man who had fallen from a cliff in Point Reyes.

Good Samaritan (Adult): Jim Moore

Truck driver Jim Moore was driving his big rig along Garberville Highway when he witnessed a SUV swerve over the middle line and hit a big rig truck head on. Jim ran to the SUV but found the driver had died on impact. Then he heard a woman screaming for help from the cab of the big rig. The truck was on fire and the woman was trapped inside. Jim broke the glass on the door and reached in and pulled the woman out. In only a matter of seconds, the cab and the truck were engulfed in flames. Jim stayed at the scene until the highway patrol arrived.

Good Samaritan (Senior): Lonny Davis

Lonny Davis provides mobility and dignity to the disabled poor by collecting and distributing used wheelchairs. Lonny and a cadre of dedicated volunteers have coordinated over 25 seating clinics in dozens of developing countries, with over 5,000 of the disabled poor receiving specially fitted wheelchairs.

Law Enforcement: Officers Todd Musto and Caelli Koehler

Officers Musto and Koehler were working as members of a Community Response Team when a call was received of a subject down at a local park. When they arrived and saw a transient gentleman lying on the floor unresponsive, CPR was performed without hesitation to subsequently save this individual’s life.

Medical Professional: Dr. Larry Abel

Dr. Able has provided hope, help and healing to many veterans. Since he also carries combat related PTSD and moral wounds from war, he is able to empathize and provide assistance to men and women who have experienced the traumas and horrors of combat that can take years and often decades to work through.

Military (Veteran): Mike Stavrakakis

Mike, an 87-year-old veteran who served in both the Korean War and during the Cuban Missile Crisis, still serves his country in retirement. Several years ago he noticed there was little reading material at the VA clinics. He began collecting books and magazines to distribute to veterans’ hospitals and clinics throughout Northern California. This has grown to include videos, toiletries, DVDs and even hand-knitted lap robes for wheelchair-bound wounded vets. His dedication to his fellow veterans has resulted in over 40,000 items delivered throughout the area.

Professional Rescuer: Officers Jesse Miguel and Jason Wyatt

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority are home fires. Officers Miguel and Wyatt bravely entered a burning home and rescued two people from a second story home.

Workplace: Don Tetrick and Marla Woody

Hughson High School sophomore Andrew Jolliff will be forever grateful to his teachers Mr. Tetrick and Ms. Woody. Andrew’s teachers jumped into action and performed CPR when they noticed that Andrew was having seizures and not breathing. Most people can’t administer chest compressions longer than two minutes, but Tetrick soldiered on for more than five! Both teachers were by Andrew’s side when emergency crews arrived and were able to bring Andrew back.

Spirit of the Red Cross: Sandy Sanville

Sandy Sanville exemplifies the spirit of the Red Cross in her everyday life. In her professional life she is a registered nurse. But in her commitment to helping, educating and comforting both friends and strangers, she is truly a friend in need. Friends with sick children, ailing parents or medical emergencies know that Sandy can be relied on day or night.

Hero of the Year: Jon Gianelli

After five months of dialysis, Michelle Obeso-Theus needed a new kidney. Fortunately, Jon Gianelli, a distant family member whom she did not know, wanted to give one. While Jon underwent six months of testing, the two kept in touch via Facebook. They finally met during his three days of testing at UCLA. Jon was approved to be a donor, but unfortunately he and Michelle were not a match. Instead, they were entered into a kidney exchange program, where Jon’s kidney went to someone else and Michelle received a kidney from another donor—all on the same day, October 14, 2014. Post-surgery, Jon hobbled over to Michelle’s bed in the recovery room to make sure she was OK. “I couldn’t imagine how in the world he walked only a few hours after having a kidney removed because I was in extreme pain,” she said. Throughout the six-week recovery period , Jon was Michelle’s motivation. Michelle reflects on life and how her quality of life would be so terrible if Jon hadn’t been willing to help a stranger and save her life. “Gratitude is a memory of the heart,” says Michelle, “and forever and always will my heart feel appreciation for Jon and his amazing family for being the real heroes and allowing me a second chance at life.”

These outstanding individuals will be celebrated at the Double Tree Hotel in Modesto this Wednesday, June 3 during the American Red Cross Modesto Heroes Breakfast.

For more information contact: Lilly Wyatt at 916-993-7084 or